Artist Develops a Market in Public Murals

by Carolyn Edlund

Artist Gibbs Rounsavall paints abstracts, usually on canvas. But he has found another market in designing public murals. I spoke with him about these commissions, and how he works with clients.


"Sunshine and Shadow" 17 x 60 foot mural completed in 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky by Gibbs Rounsavall. Read about it at

“Sunshine and Shadow” 17 x 60 foot mural completed in 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.


AS:  How did you obtain commissions for the murals you have painted?

GR:  The first mural came about by making a connection through a friend of a friend with the client. They mentioned to me that this impact investment group was looking for artists to design and execute original concepts for public murals in a part of town that was undergoing a revitalization initiative. This was exactly what I was looking for, an opportunity to work on an original mural in public, that would have benefits for neighborhood communities as well getting fairly compensated for the project.

We had a series of meetings and we found out that we were on the same page with the vision for what they were looking for and they gave me free reign on the design and were very supportive of my vision. The second mural came about largely in part because of the success of the first.



AS:  What steps did you take to come up with a price for each project?

GR:  I spoke with some muralist friends of mine to get idea on how to approach quoting a price for the project. They mentioned to me that muralists generally quote prices based on the square footage of the space. I used this as a starting point and took into account the complexity of the design and any other costs that might come up such as renting equipment, obtaining permits, prepping wall, and insurance.

One of the clients had ideas for a larger piece, but once we discussed the cost of that idea and realized it exceeded his budget, we scaled it down to keep it within his means.

AS:  How did you work together with your client to design the mural, and what compromises did you both have to make?

GR:  For the second mural, I asked him for insight in terms of design and color. He sent me some images from my website of work that resonated with him, and a color palette he had in mind for some of the other architectural elements on the exterior building.

It turned out that the only compromise that had to be made was that we had to scale it down by a couple of feet to keep it within his budget. For the most part, he allowed me to do “my thing” with the design which is an amazingly gracious sentiment to receive from a client.


Gibbs Rounsavall at work on the "Sunshine and Shadow" mural. Uneven surfaces can pose challenges to the painter.

Gibbs Rounsavall at work on the “Sunshine and Shadow” mural. Uneven surfaces can pose challenges to the painter.


AS:  How does working in relative isolation in a studio compare with working in a public setting, and what did you learn?

GR:  There is definitely more of a sense of urgency when you are working on a busy street out in the public. When you consider that your ability to work is sometimes contingent on the weather, you make the most out of nice days. One of the best things about working outside in the public is the immediate feedback from people in the community. The biggest thing I learned from working out in public is that people respond well to public art and are appreciative of an artist’s time being invested in their community.


"Stay on Target" is Rounsavall's most recent mural, measuring 8 x 25 feet. It was completed in 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. See the story of this painter at

“Stay on Target” is Rounsavall’s most recent mural, measuring 8 x 25 feet. It was completed in 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.


AS:  What advice do you have for people who are interested in working with artists on mural projects, and for the artists themselves?

GR:  I personally respond to original art and love seeing artists wield their style in projects that add to the identity and definition of the community instead of being hired to rehash familiar tropes of a specific region. I understand however that being hired by client involves being flexible with their vision for the project as well. My advice to artists would be to pursue projects that still allow you the creative freedom as well meeting the expectations of the client.


Connect with artist Gibbs Rounsavall on Facebook and Instagram.


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  1. That is nice that making connections can result in murals.

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